One Thing

I’ve been thinking lately about something Jack Palance said in the movie City Slickers. Do you remember?  It’s when he talks about the “One Thing.”  Watch it right here and then continue reading.  It will take 32 seconds.


I KNOW – Curly – the character, is talking about the secret of life.  I’m trying out some ideas of what that one thing might be, but we’ll get to that later.  In the meantime, I have begun developing a whole “one thing,” theory when it comes to food. Have you noticed that you go to certain restaurants for- yes, you guessed it – one thing?  That’s what  I’ve noticed.  I find it… the one thing…  a certain dish, a food, I have a mind bending OMG that is so great experience, and then I keep going back for the same one thing.  I have a whole list of restaurants I go to for just one thing. We’ll get to that in upcoming posts, but right now I want to talk about my very latest one thing culinary discovery.


It was in Yountville for a celebration for our cute friend Jeannie’s birthday.  We went to Bottega, Michael Chiarello‘s restaurant.  Eight of us sat down in a private room in the wine cellar.  We were ready to  toast and roast and celebrate Jeannie, who’s super cool.

Ellen ordered the wine.  She seems to have good taste in wine.  I’ve notice that sometimes she brings her own wine to things.  I mean a girl’s GOT to have standards.  Obviously, she does. She ordered a Rombauer Chardonnay and a Etude Pinot.

Jill ordered the food.   She also has good taste. We trust her because she’s in the food business.  She zipped through the menu picking off one dish after another.

We had this:  It was good.

Wild Alaskan Coho Salmon








And this:  Delicious.

Potato Dough Ravioli filled with Spinach, Black Truffles, Farm Fresh








This was crazy good.

Smoked and Braised Natural Short Ribs








And this:  OK.

Rigatoni al Coniglio Tomato Braised Sonoma Rabbit Sugo, Wild Mushrooms and Housemade Ricotto









AND THEN IT HAPPENED.  In fact, when I started eating this ONE THING,  I forgot I was trying to be a blogger who sometimes writes about food.  So, instead of taking a picture of the food— I ate it. And then I ate more.  No one was looking.  We had two of these mason jar type things full of it.  It was mind bending.  People were talking and drinking and eating. And I … alone .. was having a complete culinary ONE THING EXPERIENCE.  I heard someone say that we should order a few more things.  I heard myself say we should REALLY get another one of THESE.  We did.  When the next one came I once again forgot to take a picture of it.  I was raving about my newly discovered one thing and trying to determine if others were having a similar one thing experience.  I couldn’t tell.  By now you must be wondering what was in that little jar.

I want to show it to you, and since I have no picture, I called Bottega.  I didn’t go into Jack Palance or anything.  Too complicated.  I just asked cute girl on the phone if she could snap off a picture of this one thing I really loved on the menu so I could write about it.  She sent me to the voice mailbox of another cute girl who hasn’t gotten back to me.  So, in the meantime all I have as evidence of my One Thing experience is this empty jar.  But if you click here .. and you wait a moment , a picture of my One Thing will appear on the header of the lunch menu page on the Bottega website.







It’s called:  “Polenta Under Glass, Caramelized Mushrooms and Game Balsamic Sauce.”  It’s warm and has an earthy mushroom, butter and wine reduction flavor.  I might be biased. I have a thing for polenta because I was raised in Louisiana and polenta reminds me of the grits of my childhood – the ultimate comfort food – to me.   I’m trying to find out more about what made the dish taste so great.  I also asked the voice mail box of the girl at Bottega for the recipe.  I don’t know, however, if I can be involved in making anything that sounds as complicated as “Game Balsamic Sauce.”  If I get the recipe though, I will pass it on.  So that’s my latest food One Thing.  I can’t wait to go back for it.

Anyway, back to Jack Palance and the bigger One Thing thing.  There we were, a loose confederacy of women, gathered to celebrate one of our own by marking her date of birth. We went around the room, each of us taking a turn explaining why Jeannie is so special to us.  She beamed… giving the wine cellar a little glow.  And I thought at that moment that maybe the secret of life might be something I felt there in that cellar — belonging.   Don’t you think?  If you belong – to circles of friends, family, a community, a church, a neighborhood, even a workplace – and you add up all those spots for yourself – it fixes you somewhere safe and secure and special. Maybe it’s as simple as that. There is another line in that clip.  Curly says to Billy Crystal, “You stick to that and the rest don’t mean s—.”

P.S.  There is ONE OTHER THING.   Later that night, back at the house, some of us found that the filling for the Birthday Cream Puffs was somewhat of a Culinary One Thing experience as well.







Chris, can you hit the comment button and send us that recipe?  Lovin’ you!



7 thoughts on “One Thing

  1. The “Polenta Under Glass” sounded so good I looked it and sure enough Michael has shared his recipe…see the link below

    /Users/ginachrys/Desktop/Bottega’s Ancient-Grain Polenta”Under Glass,” with Mushrooms & Balsamic Sauce.webarchive

  2. I love Frank and Kim so I knew I would love you, now that I’ve read the One Thing I can’t imagine that we don’t already know each other!! I think that we get surer about the One Thing as we get better, smarter, more beautiful with age! And I grew up on grits since my Dad was from Mobile AL so I love polenta too! Andnow I have a craving for it in a mason jar! Thank you for the awesome post!!

  3. Here’s the cream puffs with the secret pastry cream recipe (so simple it’s sick).

    Pastry Cream — 1 big box of vanilla pudding (NOT INSTANT), Make with 2 cups milk — do not use 3 cups or it will be runny! 1 pint whipping cream. Whip cream! Make pudding and cover with plastic wrap so no skin forms. After cooled, fold in whipping cream. Mixture will be creamy and a pale yellow.

    Cream Puffs — 1 c water, 1 stick butter (makes everything delicious right?), 1/4tsp salt, 1 tsp surgar, 1c flour, 4 eggs

    Boil water, butter, sugar and salt together
    When butter melts, remove from heat, add flour all at once and stir until mixed.
    Reduce heat to medium and stir until flour mixture leaves edges of pan and forms a ball.
    Remove from heat and cool for 5 min
    Add eggs (ONE AT A TIME) beating thoroughly until smooth after each one.
    Let batter cool for 10 min.
    Using an ice cream scooper, drop spoonfuls onto an air baking sheet.
    Bake in the upper 1/3 of oven (THIS IS KEY — one rack down from under broiler) at 425 for 15min. Drop heat to 375 for 5 more min.

    Cool completely. When cool, cut in half and remove any dough in the way of filling with the pastry cream. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

    P.S. if you have the old fashionded Sunset Easy Basics — this puff recipe is theirs — picture on page 171. The pastry cream is made up from my mother because back in her day they did alot with pudding.

  4. Joyce, I really want the polenta in a jar. I know I would fall in love! Maybe we take a ride out there soon. Yum.

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